When my family and I moved to Texas, we could finally afford to own horses. I bought Mac, a half draft for myself, and a beautiful palomino quarter horse named Ollie for my daughter. As often happens, my daughter’s interests moved on, leaving me with her horse as well as my own. About that time, we decided to move to town and could only afford to board one horse, so I sold Mac and kept Ollie, who was more expensive and had more potential. I would never have paid that much for my own horse, but he became mine.
After having not been ridden enough for the last few months before my daughter stopped riding him, Ollie was a bit of a handful. My lovely trainer said he was about to become a juvenile delinquent, because at just five years old, and being a dominant horse, he needed further training. Thus began my pilgrimage as a natural horsemanship learner.
Ollie and I learned together all of the Parelli seven games, the friendly game, porcupine game, driving game, yo-yo game, circle game, sideways game, and squeeze game. Each of these games teaches a specific skill, like not being afraid of a rope in the friendly game,moving away from pressure in the porcupine game, moving back away from the trainer in the yo-yo game, and other skills needed while riding. For instance, the sideways game helps prepare for a side pass. There were times at first when he actually kicked out at me to show his resistance to my leadership. My trainer persisted with teaching me, and I persevered in learning to gently insist.
After I learned the games and taught my horse to move away from pressure and into the feel of my hands and the rhythmic pressure of my carrot stick, my trainer once said Ollie resembled a golden lab in his gentleness. Many of the people at my current barn don’t believe me when I say he used to be a handful. My gift to my daughter of a golden palomino became a gift to me of a lovely riding horse, but even more than that, of an opportunity to learn to be a leader for him. My daughter still rides occasionally, and we will always share our love for horses. I look forward to many more years of learning to ride and train my sweet gift that keeps giving.